Film Review: BEYOND THE WOODS (2016)


Synopsis: Set in an isolated house in the middle of a forest, seven friends have decided to meet up after not seeing each other for a long time. Unfortunately for them a fiery sink-hole has opened up in the mountains near the house and it’s burning hot and spewing out sulfur. The friends are determined to make a good weekend of it even though the roads around the area are closed and there’s a nauseating stink outside. They might be confined to the house, but they know how to party. As the weekend progresses some of the friends start behaving out of character, one disappears, and they all experience troubling events. It’s too late when they realize that it’s not just a sink-hole that opened near their isolated retreat, but something altogether more horrific…

Prior to the release of this film Director Sean Breathnach has been primarily known as a writer and director of several short films , including Prison (2013), Th3 Room (2010) and The Driving Test (2009). Brachnach’s abilities to tell his tale are evident in his method of elongated character development, his amazing shots (from the lush vegetation and the charming cottage, to his casts interactions on screen), and his ability to create mood with the simplest of ease. However, for me, I found some of the first two segments ( I think of it in three segments) of this film long winded and borderline dull.

While I enjoyed getting to know the characters in depth and figuring out who did and didn’t want to be there or what relationships were strained; some areas of the film felt repeated and monotonous , and others just dragged over a characters issues a little more than I liked. Perhaps it was the heavy dialogue driven scenes that bored me somewhat (and may I add I adore many films based on dialogue alone) but at times I was uninterested in hearing about who ‘works too hard’ or ‘how the break up has affected him’. As much as it helped learn about each character, some of the dialogue became whiny or made me unwilling to watch in those scenes in part. It was not until the final 30 minutes for me where the film truly found its feet. Breathnach’s vision truly comes to fruition in these final scenes and honestly that amazed me as I had lost some interest.

From our killer emerging on the screen and finally helping selectively reduce the friends with ease, to the well played roles, down to the ‘final girl’ I was finally immersed fully in the film for the last segment. It was easy to see where Breathnach used his short story telling strengths within the creation of this film, and although this film didn’t work for me on a whole, the final third of the film inspires me to see what Breathnach can create as he continues to develop more, in the world of feature length films.


Author: Michelle Sayles

Michelle is a long term horror fan, who writes reviews to purge her thoughts. Horror has been her favorite genre since she was 5yrs old- the 1976 film The Omen being her favorite, and Stephen King became her favorite author at the age of 10 when she saw Pet Sematary and begged her parents for the novel. Michelle was raised on Hammer Horror and her specialty is learning more about independent films, especially in the Australian market . Michelle writes the way she thinks, which folks don't always agree with but that is her....she shoots from the hip

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